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greatest engineer of his time, though he lived when Europe was remarkable for the number of its engineers, the
foremoft of whom were Vauban and Cohorn, the great competitors for fame. A TRAVELLER.
HERE is now in this town an engineer of the first rank, fent by the court to examine into the state of the fortifications: I faw him this morning go to the citadel, to view the works there he was attended by a number of officers belonging to the corps of engineers, who treated him with as much refpect as if he was a demi-god; in fuch high veneration do Frenchmen hold every man who is honoured with the confidential commands
of their fovereign. The appearance
Lifle, March 3, 1784.
fervice was a capital offence; and it
perfon who did not know what they were might eafily take them for fpectres. Some of thefe wretches are condemned to perpetual imprisonment; others to twenty, fome to fifteen, but few to any period under five years the difference in the length of confinement depending on the number of times that the prifoner has deferted. For my part, I think that imprifonment in thefe cafemates for five years, or for life, is nearly fynonymous, as I believe that no conftitution could bear up, even for two years, againft the damps, the filth, the fench, and the want of air, in thefe dreadful places; not to mention the want of proper nourishment; for the food of thefe unhappy prifoners is pretty much the fame that is allowed by the King in the county jails of England: the conftant prayer of thefe wretches, whenever they fee an officer, while they are out in the air, is not for pardon, but for death; and unqueftionably death, fo far from being a punishment to them, would be the best boon, fhort of pardon, that their fovereign could give them. A little while ago many of them, who were conftantly praying for death to relieve them from their mifery, found their prayers were heard when they least expected. Grown defperate from their wretchednefs, they refolved to rifque every thing to effect an efcape: they agreed, therefore, that on the morrow (which was a Sunday) when they knew the regiment quartered in the citadel would be at church, they fhould force open the gate, and, overpowering the few fentinels that were on guard on the outfide, efcape into the town, where they hoped the humanity of the inhabitants would fcreen them from juftice, by concealing them from the governour. This was a truely defperate attempt, for in front of the prifon-gate were placed two pieces of cannon, loaded with grape, fo pointed as that they might be fired point-blank into the cafemates; and fome foldiers were conftantly ftationed at the guns, with lighted matches, ready to fire in cafe of need. At the appointed time the prifoners forced the gate, and rushed out with fo much LOND, MAG. Mar. 1785.
precipitation, that they fortunately got between the guns and the men who were ftationed at them; but who, expecting nothing lefs than fuch an event, were walking backwards and forwards on their poft, as fentinels ufually do. But here was the beginning and end of their good fortune; for at that moment a captain was marching by with a detachment of fixty men, to relieve a guard at one of the town-gates: feeing the mutineers making to the gate of the citadel he intercepted them, and defired they would return to their prifon without obliging him to ufe violence towards them; but they declared with one voice that nothing but fuperiour force fhould ever make them return to the hell, as they called it, from which they had juft broke out. While the captain was parlying with them, the lieutenant, feeing they were bent upon forcing their way through the gate of the citadel, very wifely made the detachment prime and load, without waiting for the captain's orders; and had it not been for this prudent ftep of the lieutenant, the prifoners, aided by their defpair, and encouraged by their numbers, they being 300 oppofed to 60, might poffibly have fucceeded. The mutineers, inftead of doing what the captain wifhed for, began to advance towards him, as if determined to fall upon him; he again remonftrated with them, and warned them of their danger; but they, deaf to all he faid, ruthed upon the detachment: the captain inftantly gave his men orders to fire by platoons, which they did; upon which thirty-fix of the mutineers fell dead upon the spot, and twice that number were wounded: many were wounded by the bayonets, to the very points of which they had refolutely marched up: at laft the remainder were overpowered, and carried back to their prifon. The wounded were conveyed to an hofpital, the air of which, difagreeable as it might be to others, who had not been confined in the cafemates, they found to the laft degree pure and refreshing; and they bleffed God that they had been wounded, as by that circumitance A a
they enjoyed a refpite from the horrors of their prifon.
In my next I hope I fhall be able to give you a tolerable good account of the fortifications of the town and citadel, the latter of which is the admiration of the world, and which, though it was taken by Marlborough and Prince Eugene in the fucceffion war, has been fo ftrengthened by Vauban, that it is now thought by military men to be abfolutely impregnable, except by famine. Your good
old father, who has fo often fignalized himself at fieges, will be glad to read it. Farewell till the next post: you may go to Wetjie's, and pay fix fhillings for a bottle of claret; I am just going to take one with a friend, which will coft only one fhilling, and is really excellent. A fhilling a-bottle for claret on this fide the water is a great deal of money; but Flanders is not a wine country, and we are here a great way from Bourdeaux; this accounts for the dearness. A TRAVELLER.
FOR THE LONDON MAGAZINE.
ACADEMICAL NEWS FROM ST. PETERSBURGH. COMMUNICATED BY J. H. DE MAGELLAN, F. R. S. AND MEMBER OF THE IMPERIAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AT THE SAME COURT.
N the 25th of November laft was New Ruffian Imperial Academy, in the palace of her highness the Princefs de Dafchkaw, prefident both of this Academy and of that of Sciences at St. Petersburg. The great mental powers of this extraordinary lady, her thorough knowledge of various fciences, and the vaft acquifitions fhe has made of every fpecies of ufeful information, from the most eminent philofophers, and learned men of this age, during her travels through the moft polifhed and civilized nations of Europe, attracted the attention of her Imperial Majefty, the Emprefs of Ruf
The fuperior difcernment of this Auguft Potentate determined her to give a new proof to fucceeding generations how much better fuited the fair fex is often, not only for the highest employments of governing vaft and extenfive nations, of which Herfelf is the most illuftrious example; but of directing the arduous and delicate task of the various fpeculative fciences and nobler arts. With this intention her
Imperial Majefty nominated the Prin
the Imperial Academy of Sciences, and afterwards to that of the New Ruffian Academy, inftituted for the purifying, improving, and enriching the native language of her empire.
After the minutes of the proceeding affemblies of this Academy, fince its inftitution, were read; the learned perpetual fecretary gave an account of the labours undertaken by the academicians, beginning with the regulations already made by the Academy, towards establishing the permanency of its existence, and obtaining the intended object of purifying and enriching the Ruffian language; regulations that had obtained the approbation and confirmation of her Imperial Majesty.
He expofed the intentions of the Academy to fearch into the true elements of the Ruffian language; to examine the power of the characters and alphabetical notations, their pronunciation, and ufe, according to the rules of orthography*.
* If a new orthography was to be fettled, the difficulty would be infinitely lefs, than to mend that which has already been adopted in any nation. In that cafe, the whole labour would be to fix diftinct characters, both to each confonant and vowel, that is pronounced in that language. But whenever a language has been already used in writing, which is the cafe with perhaps all the com mon languages of Europe; a very arduous tafk arifes from the neceffity of keeping the fame characters already in ufe, although many of them have no difference in their articulation. This I have experienced in a treatife I undertook many years ago, for my native language, the Portugucfe; for
That fome rudiments of the Ruffian grammar having been fettled by learned and able members of the Aca
demy, it was refolved to compofe a vocabulary of the Ruffian Efclavonian language, being perfuaded that without poffeffing a complete collection of its words, expreffions, and various manners of conveying mental ideas, by the enunciation of thofe conventional figns already adopted by the best writers, and by the nation at large: it would be impoffible to be aware of the native energy, beauty, and force of any language. That to this end the Academy had been occupied in collecting not only the words common to the prefent language, but also those which have without neceffity been replaced by foreign words of other tongues. That for completing fo vaft an inquiry, recourfe had been made to the ancient works of the beft authors, both printed and manufcripts, including the fathers of the church, the Ruffian annals, and the codices of the laws of the empire. This tafk, having been divided among the members of the Academy, has already produced a great number of words and phrafes, arranged according to alphabetical order, which have been diftributed among the academicians, in order that they may add their observations and new additions, according to the fettled articles of the Academy, that their labours may be uniformly tending to the fame end.
This collection of the Ruffian language is already fo confiderable, that only five letters of the alphabet occupy more than 520 pages in quarto, printed in two columns, without including the additions, notes, and obfervations ftill to be made by the academicians. The whole being intended as the proper fource from whence the
Academy is to profit for the future progress in their general object.
In the firft affemblies of the Academy, three committees had been appointed: one to mark out the proper meaning and the grammatical fenfe of the Ruffian words and phrafes. The fecond to point out proper examples and authorities, upon which they are grounded: and the third to take care of and revife the typographical part. To these three committees a fourth was adjoined, compofed of well-inftructed perfons in arious sciences, arts, and manufactories, in order to furnish the technical terms of each, to be entered in the Ruffian dictionary.
After the above account was imparted to the affembly, her highnefs the prefident Princefs de Dafchkaw acquainted them with the honourable gift of her Imperial Majefty, the Emprefs, who had ordered a golden medal to be adjudged by ballot to the member of the Academy who had beft diftinguished himfelf during the year paft, by his labours, in forwarding the objects of this academical inftitution.
On this fubject his Eminence Gabriel, Metropolitan of Novogorod and of St. Petersburg, being the first member of the Academy, propofed that this diftinguished first mark of benevolence, expreffed by her Imperial Majefty towards the Academicians, could not be more properly offered than to their illuftrious prefident the Princess, as the foundatrix and mediatrix in behalf of the Academy to the Imperial throne, and to whofe zeal and activity all its progreffes were owing. This propofition was unanimouЯy adopted by every member in the af fembly: but her highnefs the prefident refufed the acceptance of this honour, with that modefty which is A a 2
which I was encouraged by the approbation of fome philofophers to whom I communicated my ideas, and who faw the manufcript; but having loft it in the first fire I fuffered of my papers, a little after I came to London, I was difabled to purfue the fubject. The only device I could imagine to accomplish it, was to add a particular dafh or mark to the confonants that are employed with the fame powers as others; for example, the c when it founds like an s; and to put diverfe accents to the vowels, in order to exprefs their various founds. By thefe means all former writings and books would remain as they are, without any hindrance to their being read: and the new ones after this reform, should convey the true pronunciation of each word. It is much to be wished that every modern language would adopt this, or fome fuch method at leaft, in their printed books, to fix its pronunciation in every province or part remote from the court, in order to correct the enormous variety of dialects there introduced, which makes it appear as if it were a foreign language.
J. H. DE M.
not the fmalleft of her great accomplishments. The Princefs replied, that he had met with no difficulty nor trouble in obtaining her withes from her Imperial Majefty, who is fo frongly difpofed to take every good meafure for the advantage of her empire, and to exert her utmoft zeal towards the benefit of her fubjects, as was that academical fettlement, its object being the perfection and enrichment of the Ruffian language. The Princefs added, that he was amply recompenfed by the inward fatisfaction fhe felt in the fuccefs of forming that Academy: and that any other acknowledgement or honorary mark being far from the wifhes of her heart, could but diminish that happy fatisfaction fhe continued to feel repeatedly at each affembly of the Academy.
After various and repeated intreatics from the body of the Academy, to which their illuftrious prefident conflantly oppofed her reluctance for the adjudged honour of the medal; the affembly refolved that this noble example of modefty in the refufal of the Princefs fhould be entered in the journals of the Academy: to which the replied by expreffing her gratitude for that new honour: and propofed, that according to her judgement, Mr. Lepechin, counfellor to the Imperial Court, and perpetual fecretary to that Academy, deferved to be prefented with that medal, as an acknowledgement for the great zeal and activity with which he had more than performed his duty, as fecretary, in forwarding by his application, labours, and care, the objects of the Academy. This new propofition was unanimously approved by the affembly, and the Princefs, addreffing herself to his Eminence the Metropolitan of Novogorod, propofed that to avoid any diminution in the esteem due to the honorary medal by delivering it to the fecretary after her refufal, fhe begged it might be given by the hands of his Eminence the Metropolitan: which being done, the academical medals, or jettons, were delivered to the members of the Academy; and the affembly broke up.
The Imperial Academy of Sciences
at St. Petersburg held an affembly on the 14th of January laft, the principal object of which was to pay a highly deferved compliment to the memory of the late famous Leonard Euler, the laft furviving mathematician of the first rank, who have been the ornament of the former part of this century. fine buft of this great man was began, foon after his deceafe, by the defire, and at the expence of, the Members and Prefident of this Academy (her) Highness the Princefs de Dafchkaw) to be put in the affembly-room as a monument to the memory of fo illuftrious an ornament to that learned body. The buft was made of a fine marmor of Carrara, by Mr. Rachette, a very diftinguished fculptor, who directs the fabrication of the models for the Imperial manufacture of porcelaine at St. Petersburg, and is an honorary profeffor to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, at Berlin. This performance does the greatest honour to his abilities, both by the refemblance to the prototype, and the difplay of his genius, as well as the perfection in the execution. A fine column of Italian marble was fet up in front of the prefident's chair, at the affembly-room; and her highness on placing the ftatue on its pedestal, pronounced thefe few words, which contain the fubftance of a well-deserved long panegyric: "It is the glory of this Academy to have poffeffed in its bofom fo great a man as our deceased academician, both on account of his extraordinary skill, and of his virtues : and I enjoy the happiness of here placing in your prefence, Meffieurs, the image of this refpectable veteran, as an everlafting ornament to this fanctuary of the Mufes."
Such was the refpectful tribute which the Prefident and Members of that illuftrious Academy of Sciences paid to their late great academician, out of their own affection, and without the interference of her Imperial Majefty, whofe greatness in all kinds of protection and encouragement to sciences and useful arts, will no doubt honour the memory of fo great a man, not only by the publication of the remaining inedited works he has left with